1910-1919

1910-1919

This decade was dominated by the First World War. War broke out in 1914 and lasted for 4 years, much longer than anticipated. It brought Londoners their first ever experience of aerial bombing, identity cards and government regulations on food and drink. It halted new building projects but proved a catalyst of social change, particularly by bringing women more fully into the workforce.

Before the outbreak of war, political unrest had came to a head in London. The suffragettes, the Irish 'Home Rule' movement and trade unions all agitated for change, sometimes with violence. In 1918 some political demands were met through the Representation of the People Act, which gave the vote to working men and women over 30.

London's population, 1911

Greater London: 7,160,441 people
Inner London: 4,521,685 people

London's economy and jobs

War boosted employment in London's already large armaments factories. Woolwich Arsenal's workforce rose to 75,000, of whom 28,000 were women, brought in to the factory to replace men on military service. War also boosted London's new engineering firms making cars and aeroplanes. Handley Page's aeroplane factory at Barking had opened in 1909 as Britain's first such factory.

After the war, manufacturing industry experienced a slump but continued to account for over half of London's jobs overall. Firms began to 'decentralise', moving out of the old industrial centre to new sites on London's edges. Park Royal in West London began to develop as a site for factory building.

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